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Fast Track falling flat, Axiall unionizes, sexy MBE…

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Friday, May 8, 2015

 


FAST TRACK

 

► From The Hill — Top Dem: Obama’s trade push falling short — The Obama administration’s full-court press on trade isn’t racking up enough Democratic votes to move the president’s agenda through Congress, Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said Thursday. Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said Obama’s call for Fast Track trade promotion authority to pave the way for passage of a sweeping Asia-Pacific agreement is falling flat with his own party amid concerns about the deal.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Voters in state oppose Fast Track, poll finds

reid-mcconnell-separated► From Politico — McConnell tees up trade war — Mitch McConnell is calling Harry Reid’s bluff. With his move to tee up a critical trade vote for Tuesday, the Senate majority leader challenged Reid (D-Nev.) to make good on his threat to block movement on trade until the Senate determines a strategy for surveillance legislation and highway funding.

► From the Hill — Trade fight heats up as Obama, Reid battle for votes — Reid is urging Democrats to oppose proceeding to trade legislation if Republicans do not lay out a clear path for passing an extension of highway funding and NSA surveillance authority. Both policies face deadlines at the end of the month. Said Reid: “I can’t imagine why the trade bill is so vitally important that it would trump the [NSA] bill, which is going to expire at the end of this month, or trump the highway bill, which authorization expires at the end of this month. I can’t imagine what the rush is.”

nike-child-labor► From Politico — Obama steps into sneaker war — When the president visits Nike’s headquarters in Oregon to tout trade today, he’ll be striding into a feud between the giant sneaker maker and its smaller East Coast rival New Balance and a long-standing argument over the value of trade deals. “I think it’s great that the president is getting out and talking about his agenda,” said New Balance Vice President Matt LeBretton. But “it would be great to have him come to a footwear company that actually still makes shoes in the United States and be talking about this agreement.”

► From Huffington Post — Why Obama wants to torpedo a plan to fight human trafficking — The biggest threat to President Obama’s trade agenda may be a plan to fight human trafficking, which threatens to reshuffle a major trade pact that includes Malaysia — a nation with a troubling human rights record.

or-obama-fast-track-bus► In today’s Oregonian — How to stand out at an Obama protest in Portland? Build a bus — Amid the signs and shouts protesting President Barack Obama and his trade policies, Rose Secrest stood quietly away from the masses who gathered outside the Sentinel hotel in downtown Portland on Thursday, letting her oversize cardboard bus, the “TPP Fast Track Express,” do most of the talking. “I like symbolism,” said the CWA member. “I feel like we’re all being thrown under the bus.”

 


LOCAL

 

axiall-chemical-union► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Axiall Corp. chemical workers vote to unionize — Chemical workers at Axiall Corp.’s Longview plant overwhelmingly voted to unionize Thursday. A total of 32 out of 39 workers voted to join Local 747 of the International Chemical Workers Union Council, according to the union. The local already represents about 78 employees at Emerald Kalama Chemical. “This type of thing always makes (the union) stronger,” Local 747 President Bob Leigh said. Leigh said that Emerald employees will now be able to support Axiall workers in bargaining and direct actions, and vice versa.

► In the PSBJ — Protesters at Alaska Air annual meeting demand pay raise for baggage handlers — About 150 people pushing to raise wages for baggage handlers protested at the Alaska Airlines annual shareholders’ meeting Thursday. The protest was timed for the 10th anniversary of Alaska’s controversial decision to move baggage handling to a non-union contractor. The protesters urged Alaska to pay the contract workers at least the $15-an-hour minimum wage approved by voters in the city of SeaTac in 2013.

► From PubliCola — Defending Shell lease, maritime industry sends angry letter to Mayor Murray — The Foss Maritime lease has brought 417 new jobs to both the Port of Seattle as well as Port Angeles, which is currently serving as an intermediary port for the Polar Pioneer, the Shell Arctic drilling rig slated to dock at Terminal Five in the coming weeks. The 417 jobs are employing people right now, according to a Foss spokesman, who added: “If they [the city, environmental activists] are successful in shutting down our project, those jobs are going to go away.”

 


STATE GOVERNMENT

 

► From KUOW — Finger-pointing as budget negotiations go nowhere fast — The sticking points include the overall size of the next two year budget, whether to fund negotiated contracts for state employees and how big teacher cost of living raises should be. But the big debate is over how to fund the state budget.

hill-poker-chips-frontEDITOR’S NOTE — As The (Tacoma) News Tribune reported yesterday and as the Washington State Labor Council pointed out a week ago, rank-and-file Senate Republicans and a bipartisan majority support fully funding the negotiated state employee contracts. The only reason the issue is still a “sticking point” is because GOP negotiators led by Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) are using the contracts — and thus, the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Washington families who haven’t received a general pay increase in seven years — as bargaining chips to extract collective bargaining policy changes championed by the likes of ALEC and the right-wing Freedom Foundation.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Tri-City teachers give resounding approval to May 21 walkout — Tri-City teachers intend to send a resounding message to state legislators with a walkout approved for May 21. Pasco teachers led with 94 percent approval for the walkout, while 85 percent of Richland teachers and 81 percent of Kennewick teachers voted for the day of protest.

PLUS, teachers vote to walk out in Tumwater.

► In today’s News Tribune — Tax reform proposal deserves attention, discussion (by Tracy Warner of the Wenatchee World) — The status quo, smoke and mirrors, marijuana profits, higher business or property taxes, none of that is palatable. None of it looks very far ahead.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — WWU students seek to revoke ‘climate agnostic’ Ericksen’s degree — Concerned about climate change, Huxley College students have started what promises to be an uphill — if not Quixotic — battle to strip Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) of his diploma.

 


FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

 

► From AP — Conservatives threaten defense bill over immigration — Two dozen House conservatives are threatening to oppose a sweeping defense policy bill over a nonbinding provision aimed at allowing immigrants brought illegally to this country as children to serve in the military.

 


NATIONAL

 

truck-american-flag► MUST-READ in the Washington Post — How to revive the American dream (by Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio) — In this land of big dreams, there was never a dream bigger or more important than the one so deeply rooted in our values that it became known as the American Dream. Across generations, Americans shared the belief that hard work would bring opportunity and a better life. America wasn’t perfect, but we invested in our kids and put in place policies to build a strong middle class.

We don’t do that anymore, and the result is clear: The rich get richer, while everyone else falls behind. The game is rigged, and the people who rigged it want it to stay that way. They claim that if we act to improve the economic well-being of hard-working Americans — whether by increasing the minimum wage, reining in lawbreakers on Wall Street or doing practically anything else — we will threaten economic growth. They are wrong. That thinking is backward. A growing body of research — including work done by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and the Roosevelt Institute — shows clearly that an increasing disparity between rich and poor, cronyism and an economic system that works only for those at the top are bad for the middle class and bad for our economy.

► From Huffington Post — Our children need to hear us talk about unions (by Laura Reyes) — We’ve come a long way in this country, but certainly not always in the right direction when it comes to speaking openly and proudly about the value of unions. At a time when public sector unionization hovers at 11 percent and it’s barely over 6 percent in the private sector, merely talking about unions can seem like a radical act, yet it’s a conversation we cannot abandon, especially when it comes to talking with our children.

► From The Hill — Postal revenues bump up in 2015 — The U.S. Postal Service’s package business spiked by more than 10 percent in the first three months of the year, as the rise in online shopping drives increases in the struggling agency’s revenues. But USPS still racked up a $1.5 billion net loss in the most recent quarter, driven by a congressionally-mandated prepayment for future retiree healthcare that the agency hasn’t paid in years.

walker-scott-in-a-hole► From Think Progress– Scott Walker’s corporate tax breaks come back to haunt him — One of the biggest contributors to Wisconsin’s fiscal crisis are Walker’s 2011 tax cuts, which disproportionately benefit wealthy property owners and corporations, and have cost more than twice as much as originally predicted. New data shows the credits will cost the state at least $275 million in additional lost tax revenue over the next two years. This is almost exactly the amount that Walker wants to slash from the University of Wisconsin system, a threat that has already led several campuses into laying off hundreds of professors and staff.

► In today’s NY Times — Fringe festival (by Timothy Egan) — Last election cycle, the Republican presidential field was a clown car, holding the thrice-married Newt Gingrich lecturing about values, the pizza magnate Herman Cain fending off sexual harassment claims, and Michele Bachmann confusing John Wayne with a serial killer. That was just the front seat. This time around it’s a clown bus, with as many as 17 Republicans expected to compete for the nomination.

 


T.G.I.F.

 

► This week, the music industry lost a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. No, it wasn’t a Beatle. It was Errol Brown, 71, former lead singer of 1970’s band Hot Chocolate, who passed away Wednesday at his home in the Bahamas. The band played at a pre-wedding party for Prince Charles and Lady Diana in Buckingham Palace and The Entire Staff of The Stand assumes they played this, their Most Excellent Hit.  R.I.P., Errol.

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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